Women in Science: Dr. Margaret Rhea Seddon


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Adventure Science Center Blog

Science Educators and guest authors exploring our world and the science and technology that connects us.



Women in Science: Dr. Margaret Rhea Seddon

Our mission at Adventure Science Center is to open every mind to the wonders of science and technology. An important part of that mission is inspiring kids to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We want to share the stories of women that have blazed the trail for women in STEM.


One of these women is a Middle Tennessee native, author, doctor and inductee to the Astronaut Hall of Fame - Dr. Margaret Rhea Seddon.


Dr. Seddon was born in Murfreesboro and pursued a degree in medicine that led her to complete her doctorate at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. Dr. Seddon worked as a surgeon and ER doctor until she was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1978. In fact, Dr. Seddon was one of the first of six women to enter the Astronaut Program.

Over the course of her astronaut career, Dr. Seddon flew on three missions that, among other experiments, explored how human and animal cells react to the microgravity of space orbit, and included neurovestibular, cardiovascular, cardiopulmonary, metabolic, and musculoskeletal experiments on astronauts and rats. In these three flights, Dr. Seddon helped expand our knowledge of how our bodies work on Earth and in space, and helped develop new methods and technologies for space medical care.

In total, Dr. Seddon logged more than 722 hours in space, orbited the Earth 480 times and was a pioneer for women astronauts everywhere. She served as a Mission Specialist and Payload Commander. Dr. Seddon was inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame at Kennedy Space Center in 2015.

After her career as an astronaut, she served as Assistant Chief Medical Officer of the Vanderbilt Medical Group for 11 years, then went on to work with LifeWings Partners, LLC. In both roles, Dr. Seddon improved patient safety and outcomes by using a Crew Resource Management model with roots in aviation.

Now, Dr. Seddon lives and works right here in Nashville. You can read more about her story in her autobiography Go For Orbit. Dr. Seddon is also an inspirational speaker on topics like opportunity, teamwork and leadership.

In an oral history conducted in 2010, Dr. Seddon had this to say of her early exposure to science: "When people ask me, 'When did you get interested in space,' I had to think back about that. I remember in seventh grade we had to do a science poster for our final grade. This was before Yuri Gagarin flew in space, and there was a Life Magazine article about what might happen to humans when they went away from gravity. There were all these swell pictures, pictures of the man going into space, things that might happen, and G-forces. I just thought that was interesting."

Women in STEM are an important part of our history and our future. Come visit Adventure Science Center to get inspired about science, space travel and more!

Posted by Carly Vaughn at 10:20 AM
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